Editor’s note: With the 2019-20 athletic calendar complete, The Item has started an all-decade series honoring some of the top Sam Houston State athletes of the past 10 seasons (2010-11 to 2019-20).
Records were broken, a championship was claimed and a handful of student-athletes carved out their place in Bearkat lore.
This is just a glimpse into what’s unfolded in the Sam Houston State men’s basketball program over the past decade.
The 10-year stretch we’ll look at begins with the 2010-11 season, with the Kats coming off a Southland Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. It ended under far different circumstances, with the 2019-20 season being shortened by the COVID-19 outbreak just hours before SHSU’s conference tournament opener.
There have been no shortage of memories created on the hardwood over the past decade, with a handful of memorable student-athletes leading the way. Here’s a look at The Item’s Sam Houston State men’s basketball all-decade team:
G Jabari Peters (2013-15)
Arriving in Huntsville as a junior college transfer in 2013, Jabari Peters wasted little time making his impact felt.
Peters was an all-conference performer in both of his seasons with the Bearkats — receiving Newcomer of the Year and third-team honors his first year, before earning a second-team nod as a senior. Peters led the team in scoring and assists during the 2014-15 season, and is one of two players in school history to be named to the Southland all-tournament team twice.
G Cameron Delaney (2016-19)
Cameron Delaney spent only one year as a full-time starter for the Bearkats, but his contributions during that season were enough to land him on this list.
Delaney was named the 2018-19 Southland Player of the Year as a senior after helping lead Sam Houston State to its fourth Southland Conference championship. The Harker Heights native led the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.491) in league play, while finishing among the top-10 in free-throw percentage (.852), points (15.6) and rebounds (6.3) per game.
F Gilberto Clavell (2009-11)
Gilberto Clavell was a no-brainer to make the all-decade team, and is indisputably among the most accomplished players to ever wear a Sam Houston State uniform.
Clavell is the first junior college transfer in Sam Houston State history to score more than 1,000 points in his career, and was also the first Bearkat to earn Southland all-tournament honors in back-to-back years. He was named Newcomer of the Year during the 2009-10 season, which saw the Kats reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time. However, his 2010-11 run was even more impressive from an individual perspective.
Clavell was named Southland Player of the Year in addition to earning an all-American nod, with his 603 points scored being the third-highest single-season total in school history — and the most since the program made the move to Division I.
F Kai Mitchell (2018-20)
Kai Mitchell made a strong case as the top big man in the Southland over the past two seasons, and although his career got cut short by the coronavirus, he had plenty of time to make his mark on the program.
Mitchell earned Newcomer of the Year and third-team honors in 2019, before making the first team as a senior. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while serving as a versatile post weapon for the Kats. This versatility was put on display with Mitchell’s emergence as a 3-point threat last season — after attempting only four shots from deep his first year with the team, Mitchell connected on 14 of 38 3-point attempts as a senior.
Like Delaney, Mitchell was one of the driving forces behind Sam Houston State’s 2019 championship run.
C Michael Holyfield (2011-15)
Michael Holyfield, one of the most decorated post players in program history, is the lone four-year letterman on the list.
Holyfield showed considerable improvement over the course of his career, as the 6-foot-11 big man went from coming off the bench as an underclassman to earning Defensive Player of the Year and third-team all-conference honors as a senior. Holyfield’s 86 blocks during the Kats’ 2014-15 campaign are the highest single-season total in school history. He also holds the top career mark for field goal percentage, while ranking second all-time in blocks and fifth in rebounds.
G DeMarcus Gatlin (2011-15)
G Kaheem Ransom (2013-15)
G Dakari Henderson (2013-17)
F Aurimas Majauskas (2013-17)
F Chris Galbreath Jr. (2016-18)